…..all that remains is the marriage (ok the pictures too!).
Yesterday we attended the wedding of a young lady very dear to our hearts. Vicki Botello came into our lives as a seventh grade student where Dan was the Principal. She was a bright, vivacious junior higher who was filled with the love and joy of the Lord. Her family life was a bit challenging and we quickly became a second family to her. She was a well loved babysitter for the girls (when we met Vicki we only had three daughters and they were 5, 2 and 6 months) and a great competent helper for me. She even followed us to Jim Elliot after we began the school and was in the second graduating class. She is now a college graduate and is teaching junior high herself at a Christian school where she met a young man, Sean Watt, who also has a heart for the Lord and ministry. They were married yesterday in a beautiful backyard ceremony (despite the record breaking heat wave). I dabbed my eyes several times throughout the ceremony as I remembered this sweet little 12 year old girl who was now a radiant and glowing bride, marrying the man of her dreams.
Vicki contacted us last fall asking Dan if he would officiate the ceremony. Our enthusiastic response was “Of course!”. However, there is one thing that we require. When Dan received is ministers licence 11 years ago he knew that since we worked primarily with teenagers and developed close relationships with many of them, that he would most likely often be asked to officiate at weddings. At that time we decided that in order to properly prepare couples to have a life long marriage, they needed to spend some significant time in counseling. After all the massive amount of time, energy and resources spent on the wedding (which is over in several hours), one should at least spend as much time in preparing for the actual marriage (which is suppose to last a lifetime). Over the years we have developed a six month pre marital counseling program that consists of six meetings with us as a couple, reading several books, personality testing, homework assignments after each session to be completed individually and shared as a couple. We also commit to praying for the couple and sharing with them our thoughts and ideas on how to have a successful marriage as well as any stumbling blocks or red flags that we see in their relationship.
We talk about the basic Biblical foundation of marriage, personalities, love languages, communication skills, time management, finances, priorities, family relationships, paradigms about children, parenting, in-laws, roles of each spouse, expectations, sex and intimacy. We also explore and look at questions that we think every couple should talk about before marriage:
- What will you do if something goes terribly wrong? (things like – a tragic life altering accident that leaves one alive but in a vegetative state, a chronic disease that severely impairs ones function, disfigurement due to an accident, disease or other tragedy)
- What will you do if one of you succumbs to moral failure in areas like pornography, affairs, child molestation, going to adult bookstores or clubs?
- How will you handle infertility, an unexpected pregnancy or having a child with a disorder, disease or disability?
- What is your paradigm on how to deal with aging parents who need care?
- How will you handle life if you experience financial devastation or lose everything?
- What will you do if your spouse walks away from their faith?
- What is your plan to “affair proof” your marriage? (we suggest things like never being alone with a member of the opposite sex, openly communicating temptations, having a accountability partner, being available for intimacy with your spouse – even if you don’t “feel” like it, keeping the romance alive in your marriage with date nights and romantic get-aways)
Of the dozens of couples we have done pre marital counseling with, there is only one couple who are no longer together. In our society and culture that sees affairs and infidelity as “normal”, marriage as optional and divorce as acceptable, we truly believe that if more couples took the time to seriously prepare for a lifetime commitment and more ministers required it, we would see many more successful and happy life long marriages. Wouldn’t that be great for all of our lives, our families and our country?
Congratulations Vicki and Sean….may the Lord richly bless your marriage!